In the Mood For Love - Wong Kar-Wai

 

Expert Author Antonius Block

This fantastic movie, released in 2000, is Wong Kar-Wai's most successful work to date. Elegant, subtle, beautiful, a poetic tale of suppressed feelings, forced to bow down to peer-pressure. Masterful storytelling, accompanied by a vivid and inspired photography, expressive costumes and poignant acting, contribute to place this movie amongst my modern favourites.

The movie is composed by a myriad of small scenes, each one advancing the tale slowly, thus helping the plot to develop subtly, yet keeping the momentum always high, plunging the viewer a step deeper each time. The scenes are interspersed with a large number of slow-mo interludes, accompanied by the perfectly apt main music theme, and the effect they have on the film brings to my mind, by free-associating, a sentence spoken by Chow: "Feelings can creep up just like that". In fact, the slow-mo helps the story to advance discreetly but relentlessly; it helps it to creep up on the audience, just like the feelings creep up the on-screen couple (and maybe their respective partners, too).

These two even re-enact the betrayal of their partners, and those scenes are rich with emotions and feelings bottled up till then, almost like an exorcism, or a successful psychoanalytic treatment; a chance, for the characters, to come to terms with their sorrowful past, and their present. During this re-enactment, the actors even repeat the scenes they are not happy with, in an emotional trial-and-error process. Their involvement is so deep that many times we are not sure whether what we see is real life or just acting and, so it would seem, neither are they. We notice this, for instance, when they meet for dinner for the first time, she is having a hot dish, he asks "Like it hot?", and she says "Your wife likes hot dishes".

In the Mood for Love is full of symbols, predictions, prophecies, sentences said by each of the main characters, giving subtle clues as to what will actually happen later in the story. A lyrical, poetic, Art-house feature, something all too rare these days.

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